Sunday, April 11, 2021

CoNZealand Fringe Transcript: Good News On The Horizon: Upcoming Books & Media We Can’t Wait For

During CoNZealand, a group of fans put together a set of panels, which took place outside convention hours, which would be available for free via Youtube and offer a taster of the Worldcon experience to those unable to participate in CoNZealand's programming hours, or hadn't bought a membership but were interested in the kind of content provided. The result was a set of 15 panels over 6 days, archived and available for all at

As a fringe event in the tradition of Edinburgh Fringe and other international collateral events, CoNZealand Fringe was conducted entirely outside core programming hours and spaces, and panels were not official CoNZealand programming. CoNZealand Fringe is not endorsed by CoNZealand.

Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together is pleased to host the transcripts of CoNZealand Fringe panels for fans who are unable to watch the videos or prefer a written format. This is the transcript for Good News on the Horizon, which ran on Sunday 2 August 2020 at 8pm BST/3pm EDT/12pm PDT/7am NZST (next day) and is available here. Other panel transcripts are available via our transcript hub. 

Good News on the Horizon: Upcoming Books & Media We Can't Wait For

Panel Description: Now that we’ve all got our Hugo Award ballots done for another year, and caught up on the highlights of the first half of 2020, it’s time to turn our attention to all the amazing new projects slated for release beyond July. Our panelists discuss the upcoming releases sure to capture our attention into the new year and beyond.

Host/Panellist: Rachel @ kalanadi

Moderator: Natalie Devitt

Panellists: Lee/Lali @ Portal Bookshop (they/them), Thomas Wagner (he/him), Sean Dowie (he/him)

RACHEL: It looks like we are live now if people can see us and hear us. Okay, Reija says we are live now so it is time to go, welcome to the last ConZealand Fringe panel, and I will now turn it over to Natalie, our moderator.

NATALIE: Hello, I’m Natalie Devitt, associate writer for the Galactic Journey blog, this Good News on the Horizon! I’d like to take a moment to get to know each one of the panellists, I guess we can go in alphabetical order by first name, so Lee, if you’d like to start off, tell us a little about yourself.

LEE: Hi, I’m Lee, or Lali, or Portal Bookshop human incarnate, I run a queer and sci-fi fantasy specialist bookshop in York, and I’ve been in fandom for longer than I probably should have been already. So I’m super excited about lots of upcoming super queer books.

NATALIE: Next up, Sean, if you want to tell us a little bit about yourself?

SEAN: I am Sean, I am a contributor for the Hugo-nominated fanzine Nerds of a Feather, as well as a book reviewer for Fiyah Literary Magazine, I’m obsessed with books, I have a list too long to get through for this panel, and I am looking forward to learning more about books from the other panellists.

NATALIE: Great, thank you Sean. Now, what about you Thomas?

THOMAS: Well I think actually, R comes before T, so. Rachel, you want to say hi?

RACHEL: Go ahead Thomas.

NATALIE: I assumed people were already familiar with her, but. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to skip over you.

THOMAS: It’s all good. Hi, I’m Thomas Wagner, my channel and website are SFF180, I started reviewing online, way back in like 2001, my original website was and it was just a hobby thing, and it always just stayed on the sideline of my life as something to keep me anchored. Now I’m able to devote myself to it more or less full-time, and so yes. That is my background in all this, and I’m happy to be here.

NATALIE: Great, thank you Thomas. And I’m sorry for skipping over you Rachel, would you want to share a few words with us?

RACHEL: Yes, my name is Rachel, we’re here on my YouTube channel, Kalanadi, I’ve been booktubing since 2014, I read an ungodly number of books per year, and never seem to get through my reading list (laughs). Also, I got longlisted for Fancast again this year in the Hugo Awards, which is really cool.

SEAN: Congratulations!

NATALIE: Yeah, congrats!

LEE: Well done!

THOMAS: (Claps)

NATALIE: So as a reminder: Fringe is not affiliated with the Big Con. I also want to remind everyone, if you are interested in asking questions please feel free to drop them in the chat, I’d like to have an opportunity to answer your questions. So, I guess we’ll go ahead and start our discussion. I’m kind of curious: based off of what everyone’s seen so far in 2020, are there any subgenres that you think might be very popular, kind of dominate things over the next half of the year?

SEAN: Yeah, I see things going in two different polarities. I see very fluffy fantasy, magical realism, that focuses on the comfort of the world – fictional comforts of the world, because you can’t find many non-fictional comforts these days, that make you feel less alone and distract you from reality – and I also see it in going into really dark horror, that really delves into the depths of where we are right now. Because although horror can be a very harrowing genre to read, it always have nuggets of information that you can plough through and find, if you get through all the harrowing bits, and that could also be a big subgenre. So yeah, dark horror and fluffy fantasy.

NATALIE: The two extremes. Any other thoughts on this, Thomas, Lee?

LEE: I’m all here for more time-travelling lesbians, because that’s been fun so far, but you can never have too many.

NATALIE: And Rachel, if you have any thoughts too?

RACHEL: I would completely echo what Sean has said, I’ve noticed that there’s been a lot more darker fiction, more horror, on my own reading list, what people are coming out with this year. Just – really getting into some of the gritty questions that have popped up in the last couple of years.

THOMAS: Yeah, again echoing what Sean has said, I see fantasy largely moving in a comfort direction, comfort redirection, where... Books coming out for example – but even those are putting a little bit of a darker spin on them, because on the one hand people want what is familiar and comforting, but on the other hand you don’t want to entirely ignore the realities of our world and what we’re dealing with. And if, fiction, if what it does is it holds up a mirror to our reality, especially fantasy fiction, and if it is a way for us to process and understand some of the things that we’re going through, kind of as a lens, to look at reality through, a lot of fantasy is splitting the difference right now. So we have for example, a book like Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, again, it’s the old magic school trope, but darker. So I think that I see a lot of that happening in fantasy. And as far as horror goes, there’s a stunning number of pandemic novels happening at the moment, as well as –

RACHEL: Unintentional, perhaps?

THOMAS: For example, something like Chuck Wendig’s Wanderers, and probably Survivor Song by Paul Tremblay were just a matter of timing, but I think that we’re probably going to start seeing upcoming horror say in 2021 and beyond, the idea that it’s not going to be informed by 2020, and it’s not going to be a commentary, that these aren’t going to be books in conversation with what we’re living in now, is – that’s obviously where it’s going to go.

LEE: I’m anticipating a lot of working together and community themed things, based on that. You can kind of see things coming through already in short fiction, there’s a lot of grouping together and supporting each other going on, and there’s a post-apocalyptic anthology coming up called Glitter and Ashes, which is about queer communities in various different post-apocalyptic scenarios, and how people will support each other and pull together and work through things. It’s not all complete polar opposites, there’s going to be a full spread as well, in the middle of dark but also hopeful? The hopepunk stuff is going to have a big surge I think.

THOMAS: I do think we’re going to maybe see a lot of that in short fiction, because in short fiction there’s so much more room to have that kind of creativity, because you don’t have to have the pressure of writing a novel and then the novel has to be marketed in a certain way. I think writers who are doing short fiction, and also writing for anthologies and magazines, are probably going to have a lot more freedom to explore those ideas, than maybe in novels. Do you think?

LEE: They can react a lot faster as well.

RACHEL: Yeah, that’s what I was going to say. It’s a shorter time to getting a short story published in reaction to what’s happening right now. Novels will, the publication cycle – a year or two from now, perhaps.

SEAN: I agree.

NATALIE: So are there any forthcoming releases that you’re eagerly anticipating?

RACHEL: Should we start with things coming out in a couple of weeks, or can we jump to 2021?

NATALIE: Whatever you’re looking forward to the most I think is probably going to be the most interesting.

RACHEL: There’s so many, I can’t count them all. But I’m a huge fan of Arkady Martine, and A Desolation Called Peace is going to come I think out in February or March 2021, and I’m just so thrilled, I can’t wait.

SEAN: I echo Arkady Martine. I’m also looking forward to, if we’re talking about just this month, there’s a short story collection, if we’re alright to go back to that topic, called Children of the Fang and Other Genealogies by an author named John Langan –


SEAN: I think he’s great, he really digs into the depths of humanity, and it’s a very uncomfortable reading experience most of the time, but for some reason I always have to go back to it, I always get something valuable out of it. Maybe I like being discomfited, but I think there’s an emotional authenticity to it that I think a lot of books lack. And then one more that’s coming out soon is The Loop by Jeremy Robert Johnson, and he’s an author who’s been killing it in the bizarro fiction area for a long long time, and this seems like the book that is going to be a crossover, because it’s being called a mix of World War Z and Stranger Things. So it’s like Stranger Things-esque adventure with a lot of zombies and experiments, and it seems like it’s very promising.

THOMAS: Well you know, horror works very well, especially when it’s all about empathy. The best horror is centred on empathy. That’s why I think it reaches in as deeply as it does. Gosh, yes, if we want to talk about imminent releases, it’s a very exciting August coming up, we have the final Masquerade novel by Seth Dickinson, the Tyrant Baru Cormorant, I’m looking forward to, there’s the collaboration with Gardner Dozois and Michael Swanwick, The City Under the Stars, Gardner Dozois died a couple of years ago now I guess, so this will be his last hurrah as it were. And then Karen Osborne is a debut author, she had a story, a piece of short fiction that was a Hugo finalist this year, and now she has her debut space opera happening this month from Tor Books here in the States, called Architects of Memory, and I’m very intrigued by that. And then Derek Künsken is a space opera author whose work I’ve been following, I’ve been very curious about him, and he has a new story from Solaris this month called House of Styx, and it’s already been serialised in Analog, but I always like to wait for the book to come out.

Yeah I’m especially excited for the Karen Osborne book too, I loved the short story ‘The Dead in Their Uncontrollable Power’, that totally knocked my socks off, so I’m excited to see what she does with a longer work.

THOMAS: And this one’s a duology, I think, and the second book is coming out in fairly short order

SEAN: Yeah it comes out in February, but don’t quote me on that.

RACHEL: I kind of want to pivot from that and talk about middle grade and really fluffy stuff.

NATALIE: Go for it!

RACHEL: Nnedi Okorafor has her first middle grade novel coming out at the end of August, I think, it is called Ikenga, and I’m ashamed to say I can’t remember that much about it because I usually go into her books completely blind, but I’m super excited, anything that she does with mythology and Nigerian culture and all of that, I’m completely here for. And then The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Katie O’Neill is coming out in September, for everybody who loves those kind of picture books for young readers, they just warm the soul, they’re so welcoming and diverse, such good messages, I just love them so much.

LEE: I’m running on hype for this month, because in two days’ time we have Harrow The Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, and I mean – the tagline for that that I have seen is ‘the lesbian necromancers are back and they’re gayer than ever’, and I’m sold instantly. Plus later this month we’ve got Drowned Country by Emily Tesh, which is the sequel to Silver in the Wood, which was soft and adorable and bittersweet, and also really vicious and gruesome. I have read an ARC for the Drowned Country, and it’s fantastic and ripped my heart out slightly –

[Holds up copies of both Emily Tesh books]

SEAN: Oh, nice!

LEE: Yes! It’s so pretty, and it’s so much fun, and the characters are just so intensely extra, it’s great. [Crosstalk]

RACHEL: So much snark and sass, yes.

NATALIE: Okay, I do have another question, does anyone think that there’s an upside to publishing or releasing content during the pandemic? I mean I know that people have presumably more time, but do you think that there’s a silver lining to this?

RACHEL: I think people are consuming content at an incredible rate during this time, I think it’s interesting, I’ve seen publishers putting off books, which I consider to be just a result of the warehousing problem, the problem of getting printing done, and the constraints within the logistics of it all, but I’ve also seen people who self-publish, like Gail Carriger, who have been pulling their stuff to push it out sooner, and get it out to their audiences, because they know people want to read it, and have something – well in Carriger’s position – something fun and fluffy and wonderful to read during hard times. [Inaudible]

THOMAS: I think people were very unsure when the lockdown began, we had no precedent for this, so I do recall back in April and March, a lot of authors who had books coming out being in panic mode, it’s like oh great, my book is now coming out when all the bookshops are closing and everything is shutting down, and when you’re used to that system being in play – a lot of people of course shop online, but to have the presence of the big brick and mortar stores, and displays and what have you, has just always been part of the environment. And then it’s taken away, and it leads to this unpredictable future where, now what’s it going to look like? I don’t know which authors have ended up really benefiting from lockdown, I imagine it will be the authors who are already popular and have a big following, their followings are still as strong as they are. I can imagine though if you’re a debut author this spring and early summer, it could be very nerve-wracking. Because, you have the whole issue of, first off I’m new, I don’t know if I’m going to get the promotional push that the money-makers do, the best-selling authors do. You just really have no way of knowing, once certain rugs are pulled out from under your feet, how this is all going to land. I would not envy a creator who had a book coming out in the spring, I’m sure it was just – potentially very traumatising.

LEE: There were also a lot of supply issues early on, so that caused problems early on.

SEAN: To try to go into an author’s head, the average author who’s an introvert, I guess the one other silver lining I can think of, those with social anxiety can now market their book behind a screen, and they don’t have an excuse to avoid any book tours or anything like that. But I totally agree with Thomas that for a debut author you have to go out there and market your book whether you want to or not if you want it to sell, and this is definitely debilitating that. It’s probably a lot easier for established authors because they already have an established Twitter following that is not affected by the pandemic, but for going out and getting your name out it’s for sure hard.

THOMAS: In times like these – [crosstalk] I’m sorry, go on.

LEE: I know a lot of people have been feeling guilty about promoting their work as well, because there’s a pandemic on and people are dying. And they’re here going, “I wrote a book?” But this is why I’ve been shouting about books a lot more during all of this. Because I’m like, if you need distracting, these people have put in the work, go support them.

NATALIE: I kind of feel like a lot of entertainment has helped me make sense out of things, for me at least it’s been kind of energising during a time that’s so draining. I was wondering do you think it will affect readers? Like maybe they might be willing to branch out and check out things that are outside of the mainstream? Or do you think people are probably going to look for more of the same?

RACHEL: I think people will definitely look for more book suggestions and recommendations, not so sure about reaching out to other things though.

THOMAS: Yeah, you always want to be optimistic about that, like hey people be open minded to expand your horizons and what have you. But I can recall, for example, when a television show comes out and it’s based on a series and people are checking out the show and they love the show so they want to read the books. And I would see this happening because I haunt my local bookshops regularly, and you would see the employee leading the customer to the fantasy section to show her where the Sookie Stackhouse books were, and she would grab exactly that, and immediately walk off. There’s not this thought of, oh I wonder what else is here that I might also like in addition to this. No, they just go and they get the thing, and then they go away. You really have to, handselling, you have to keep the conversation going, and reaching those people – “if you like this, try this, try this and try this,” you know. Sometimes it’s not as easy as you hope it would be.

RACHEL: I wonder how much just browsing the bookshelves at the library or the bookstore has been replaced by browsing Hoopla, browsing Overdrive. There’s been a huge push from libraries to get things online and engage their patrons in their ebook and audiobook resources as well. It’s not quite the same thing than physically looking at a bookshelf though.

NATALIE: There’s a lot of things you find on the bookshelf that you would never think to search for at home on your computer.

SEAN: Yeah, computers, especially certain websites are designed to point you in the direction that already suits your taste. And with a bookshelf, there is not that trajectory, you’re allowed to go wherever you want, and you might stumble upon books that might not align with what you think you really like, which could make you branch out, whether you like the cover or a synopsis that really caught your eye – you just can’t have that as much anymore.

NATALIE: So outside of books, are there other types of media that everyone’s looking forward to, over the next half year, or into 2021?

RACHEL: I was already talking to Thomas about the one thing I’m looking forward to, which is the Dune adaptation in December, if we get to have that in-theatre experience.

SEAN: Yeah, I was going to say Dune. For some reason, even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the sequels, I’m excited for The Matrix 4, because that franchise is always something that tries to do something new, it doesn’t always accomplish what it sets out to do, but as far as blockbusters that are trying to not follow the formula, that’s one of the ones that continue to do that.

LEE: And given what the Wachowski sisters did with Sense8, I’m hopeful that The Matrix will do something fun.

SEAN: Yeah, they’re on a roll right now, so I hope it continues, for sure.

LEE: Yeah.

[silence for a few moments]

THOMAS: Sorry!

NATALIE: Okay, I’ll take a moment to look in the chat, see if anyone’s posted any questions, if you haven’t done so already I encourage you to drop some questions in the chat that I’d be more than happy to ask our panelists.

RACHEL: I think somebody was discussing finding book recommendations and such through places like Instagram or social media, and some questions of curation or gatekeeping perhaps. I think I missed part of the comment, but that was interesting, I think the point was that finding random things is still less when you have that gatekeeper, whether it’s in a bookstore or a library or such, somebody else had to choose to put that thing on the shelf. It’s different with something like Instagram, obviously there’s still an algorithm there trying to show you things, but. I think that’s an interesting point, I haven’t actually used Instagram for book recommendations but it’s a very different experience than using something like Goodreads or the Amazon platform.

THOMAS: I suppose if we also want to talk about other media and how specifically it is responding to the current situation, there is a one-hour lone horror movie that has just been released, it’s streaming online, and it’s called The Host, and it is a supernatural horror movie that is set in a Zoom meeting like this, the entire thing is like what you’re seeing right now, and it’s about this group of friends – it’s like Unfriended but even more basic, it’s designed for streaming, it’s something like 58 minutes long, and it’s getting a pretty good response. And it was just made directly as something to do, essentially, a creative project, while we’re all in lockdown. It’s getting reviewed well and actually taken rather seriously, as here’s a way in which entertainment is being produced now. The creators are adapting to circumstances. We’re going to see more of that kind of thing, but there’s always YouTube anyway, so you can just watch us if there are no movies to watch.

It’s definitely changing the landscape of how media is produced. I’m a filmmaker too and I’m making a film on Zoom like pretty much every filmmaker these days, and one thing that I will say that has really helped is that all of my friends who come from different towns, who aren’t able to come to my film sets usually, have been able to be a part of the film this time without paying expenses for travel, so it’s definitely mitigated the financial expenses for sure, and it’s changed the way you look at movies. It’s definitely imposed all these limitations, but it’s also has expanded how you can connect with your cast members, so it’s expansion and confinement.

THOMAS: Technology has gotten to the point where it has democratised filmmaking so much more already, for several years now it’s been the case, the better smartphones out there have 4k cameras that can rival just about anything professionals might use, and so if you want to be a new emerging filmmaker getting into the field, you can get started at a much higher level of technical game than you ever could, already. And now with, as you said, making films through Zoom, this is all about creativity adapting to circumstances, and it’s democratising the process even further. Probably the same way that something like Kindle Unlimited has democraticised publishing. Not always in good ways, you can go and on about the Kindle Unlimited scams, but self-pubbed writers being able to go right through Amazon or what have you and have a platform for your work, it’s democratising the process.

SEAN: Yeah, and I also feel like it’s levelled the playing field between very small filmmakers who don’t have a huge budget, and the huge filmmakers, because there’s only so much you can do in Zoom – you can’t make like the next Avengers movie in Zoom, at least not yet. We all have the same limitations now, and now it’s just the matter of who can make the best art, it’s not as much about who has the most money.

NATALIE: Yeah, and I know that a lot of the big studios have shut down production, so maybe it will make it to, with everyone having access to tools of digital creation there, we might see a wider variety of people making films and getting their stuff out there.

THOMAS: Yeah, again, wider voices in filmmaking, more diversity.

[Pop up from zelizardqueen: panelists- who do you follow on Twitter/IG for your book recs?]

There was a question came past in the comments there about who people follow on Twitter and Instagram for recs, so I want to use that moment to give a shout out to @KA_Doore on Twitter, because she posts the most fantastic lists, and has a whole bunch of like – everything coming out this year that is in adult sci fi/fantasy and contains queerness, here are all the bi main characters, and here are all the pan things, and here is everything that has asexual rep. And Claudie Arseneault as well, has the – that’s the one, yeah – has the asexual and aromantic database, which is a fantastic place to find recs, especially for self-published stuff which we were just mentioning, because I end up stocking quite a lot of self-published stuff in the shop, because that’s where the representation is sometimes, especially for the more marginalised identities. K.A. Doore, that was.

SEAN: I am biased but I follow all of the Nerds of a Feather editors and fellow contributors because I feel like they have great taste, and it’s not just because I’m part of the team, but I genuinely do think that their reviews are so well-written and so thoughtful that you can’t find anything better. There might be stuff that’s as good, but there’s nothing better.

RACHEL: I don’t really follow people on Twitter or Instagram for book recommendations, but I do follow a lot of SFF booktubers, which is where I hear about most things these days. I will give Thomas a shout-out because of course he has his weekly mailbag Monday with all the new releases, which is a fantastic way to discover a lot, a lot of new stuff on a regular basis –

THOMAS: And hopefully we’ll be able to go back to weekly at some point, that’s a thing that the Covid has affected.

RACHEL: But also I follow a lot of other channels of varying sizes, I find that a lot of the smaller, newer booktubers actually have some of the best, most quirky things to talk about that you would never have heard of otherwise, and that’s a really, really good way to find out about stuff.

SEAN: Yeah, I’ve just taken the plunge into the whole booktube world, like not making videos – maybe one day – there’s a lot of interesting smaller channels for sure that have very unique tastes, about books that I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise. I’m very thankful that the booktube community is a thing, and it’s thriving as well as it is, and it’s as diverse as much as it is.

NATALIE: I see someone asked if there were any gamers on the panel. Are there any gamers on the panel that have any releases that you’re looking forward to?

THOMAS: I mean do, I wouldn’t call myself a gamer, it’s not my YouTube thing, I don’t identify with it, it’s not my outlet, it’s just my relaxation. But gosh, yes. I perhaps haven’t been paying attention to too much. I’m on the fence about the next Assassin’s Creed game, I’m not quite sure what they’re going to do with – if the entire Viking setting is going to be wonderful or absurd. But then again, there were a whole lot of absurd things about Odyssey, which was the Ancient Greece game, thoroughly ahistorical, but at the same time it was just a wonderful immersive experience. I’m in love with Cassandra, my character, we’ve been together now for – gosh, I looked the other day and I’ve been playing that game for a year and three months.

SEAN: Wow.

THOMAS: And it’s just a way to slip into another world. So those are the kinds of games that I like, the ones that can immerse me that fully. And I hope to have that kind of experience again. So we’ll see. I am on the fence again – I preordered it, but I’m on the fence about Cyberpunk 2077, the big thing coming out I believe in September. There was a recent controversy about how they’re handling character creation, and specifically in terms of how they’re addressing gender identity. There’s a bit of concern about whether or not they’re going to completely screw the pooch on that one. But we’ll see again, I’m hot and cold on it, but I’ve preordered it, so I guess I’m going to check it out.

SEAN: If we really want to go to the horizon into like, next year, for Playstation 5 I’m really looking forward to Horizon Forbidden West, which is a sequel to a flawed masterpiece for the Playstation 4 called Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s fantasy, there’s robots, robotic dinosaur creatures, and it’s open-world, and it’s really something. One thing that I will say about it is that out of all the games I’ve played, it has the strongest sense of awe, whether it’s the skill or the beauty of it, it’s worth a play, and I’m sure the sequel for Playstation 5, whenever that comes out, will also be worthy.

NATALIE: I also see a request for recommendations for any graphic novels or comics, does anyone have anything they’d like to say about that?

RACHEL: I sort of have one, but I don’t actually know that much about it. It’s a graphic novel, I think it’s for middle grade or YA readers, called The Magic Fish, by Trung Le Nguyen, who is a Vietnamese-American illustrator and writer, and it sounds like it’s going to be a coming of age story interwoven with Vietnamese mythology or fairy tales, and I’m mostly drawn to it because the artwork looks amazing. But, yeah I just want to put that one out there.

NATALIE: Anyone else?

LEE: I just looked one up earlier that’s called Cute Mutants, and it is kind of exactly as it sounds, heavily inspired by X-Men and adorable. It’s teenagers who gain superpowers from a party, and then have to try and save the world, but they can barely hold the team together.

SEAN: I’m woefully behind on my graphic novel knowledge, I need to re-find that.

RACHEL: Oh and any more of Invisible Kingdom by G. Willow Wilson and Christian Ward, that would be amazing. I think volume 2 just came out, but it’s beautiful and it’s really well-written.

LEE: The Old Guard, maybe? Considering the film?

SEAN: Yeah, it’s timely for sure.

NATALIE: Okay, I’m going to look into the chat to see if we have any additional questions, has anyone seen any that –

RACHEL: There’s one from Adri actually, that I think would be really fun to answer, I’ll put that on the screen.

[pop-up from Adrienne Joy: What sequel or new thing by a favourite creator that HASN’T been announced would you most wish for in the next 18 months?]

RACHEL: I have three answers for this. The first is a bit of a cheat because we do know it’s going to come out. But Perhaps the Stars, Ada Palmer’s fourth Terra Incognita book, and I’m quite certain it’s going to come out in 2021, but I don’t trust the release date of June, it’s been moved so much. It’s going to be one of the biggest releases of 2021 for me in particular. Also, the second Numair book by Tamora Pierce, the sequel to Tempest and Slaughter, and in fact if anybody knows anything about the release of that book, please let me know. Amazon is like, oh it’s coming out in September of 2020, and I’m like, oh no. That’s a lie. But I know it’s in the works, so I can’t wait. I waited half of my life for the first Numair book to come out, and the idea that we’ll get the second one in less than maybe three years or whatever, that would be awesome. And then my third one is Menewood – or, I’m actually not sure how to pronounce that, it looks like “mean-wood” – by Nicola Griffith, which is the second in her Hild series – no, Light of the World, that’s the name of the series, the first book is called Hild. It’s been in the works for many years as well, and I just love everything by Nicola Griffith. It’s ancient Britain, slightly fantastical retelling of Saint Hild’s life. The first book was incredibly lush and beautiful.

SEAN: Yeah, I have a couple. One is a sequel to a book that isn’t out yet but I’ve read already, and that is Ring Shout, by P. Djèlí Clark, which I reviewed for Fiyah, please check out my review, thank you! It is, and probably will remain by favourite read of the year. It’s about the film Birth of a Nation by D.W. Griffith, which was a seminal work in early 20th century film, that was very racist about the KKK. It’s a historical alternate reality, where that film is used to energise KKK members and turn them into Lovecraftian monsters. It’s a pulpy, brilliant adventure. It ends perfectly, but I’d like more of it. And then for a movie, I really think that the 2017 movie starring Anne Hathaway called Colossal is an underrated gem. it’s about aliens – it’s kind of like Godzilla, but it also has stuff about alcoholism and domestic abuse. And, yeah that’s a movie I think about constantly, and I’d love to see a sequel to that.

THOMAS: Yeah, it’s all about toxic masculinity.

SEAN: Yeah, that too. [Crosstalk]

THOMAS: And the danger of “nice guys”.

SEAN: Yeah, exactly. It’s more toxic masculinity than domestic abuse, for sure.

THOMAS: It was actually a terrific performance from Anne Hathaway, who is someone I usually bounce off of.

SEAN: I usually bounce off her too, but something about her really sold me on that movie.

THOMAS: We’ve got us a question in a – yes, and Rachel you already answered that one so I’m not going to worry about it. In 2018 at Worldcon there was a sequel announced to Katharine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor, no title was given, only that she is working on one.

RACHEL: It’s called Witness for the Dead, it does have a title now.

THOMAS: Alrighty then, that would be the one yet to have a date announced thing that I think is very exciting to look forward to. In terms of – it depends on how you define “hasn’t been announced yet”. There are a lot of things that have been announced and then they’ve been pulled back, or maybe we just know that a writer is working on something but there’s no date, or what have you. I’m looking forward to William Gibson’s Jackpot, which is the third book, it’s the final book in the trilogy that was The Peripheral and Agency, and Jackpot will be the third in that one. Apart from that, most things I know about them because they are announced in some capacity. If they’re announced and then get cancelled or pulled back, then that’s a thing that usually happens, but otherwise.

LEE: There aren’t too many books that I would hope for, because I’ve got – my TBR pile is a wall of bookcases, so I’m good on books, I’m happy with what’s coming out! But I would dearly like to see a She-ra follow-up film announced.

NATALIE: Okay, let’s see if we have any additional questions in the chat. I do see one that I thought was kind of interesting, someone asked if there were any collaborations that you wish you would see, maybe between some of your favourites?

[Pop-up from WordsinInk: Are there any collaborations you’ll love to see or are looking forward to?]

THOMAS: I am looking forward to a book that is tentatively slated from Tor.Com next August, it’s a space opera novella called Light Chaser, and it’s Peter Hamilton and Gareth L. Powell. Like two space opera stars, who approach their books in very different ways. Gareth Powell does not write space opera quite the way that Pete Hamilton does, but to see them blend that together is something that has me very curious. So that’s the one I know of that I’m looking forward to seeing.

SEAN: To go to my YA love, I’d love to see Patrick Ness and Neal Shusterman who are like two titans of the YA genre, and have a kind of similar style – they both explore pretty creative themes in emotionally honest ways, and I think their collaboration would be really something.

NATALIE: Anyone else?

LEE: Collaboration-wise, Robin Hobb and N.K. Jemisin, can we make that happen?

SEAN: Yeah, I agree with that.

: That would be interesting, two writers with very different approaches,

RACHEL: Yeah, that could be really good.

THOMAS: Or imagine getting the real powerhouse of N.K. Jemisin and P. Djèlí Clark, that’s a book that would set the world on fire I think.

SEAN: For sure.

THOMAS: Yeah, definitely. Claire says Ann Leckie and Becky Chambers, yeah, I can see the sensibilities there.

NATALIE: Looking at the chat, I was kind of curious about one of the questions, did you see the one about the favourite authors, if they wrote in another genre, what you’d want it to be?

THOMAS: I’ve many times thought to myself, I would love to see some epic fantasy writers try space opera. And as it happens that’s now a thing that’s happening, Chris Paolini’s new book, To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, which I just got. And again, a bit wary because Eragon was… you know, Eragon, but he’s older now, and he says he spent two years researching the physics and all of that, so he’s really taking his first foray into novel-length science fiction very seriously apparently. So, yeah, I’m going to give that a shot. And my good friend Stina Leicht, who has told me in the past, “I can’t write science fiction, it’s just not me, just not me,” started with really violent, politically charged urban fantasy, and then went to flintlock fantasy, and now her next book is a space opera western, coming out in January, Persephone Station. I do love to see people who formerly would tell me, “no, that’s not my thing, I can’t do it,” and then they do it, and then they’re good. I’m like, see! I love to see that.

RACHEL: I would love to see Jo Walton finally come out with a real sci-fi book. She’s so well-read in like the entire history of hard science-fiction, space opera, all that sort of stuff, I would love her to have a book about that. Actually I think she did have a science fiction novel slated, but it was pulled from publication a couple of years ago. Almost had it, almost!

SEAN: I’d love Paul Tremblay, who’s the horror author, to write a nice, warm, romance, because I think he can do anything. I know it’s not in his wheelhouse, but I really think he could pull it off, and I’d read it day one just to see how it turns out.

THOMAS: Well, you know, you read Survivor Song, right?

SEAN: I did, yeah.

THOMAS: The friendship at the core of that book is so tender, right? I agree with you, I think he could really surprise us there.

SEAN: Yeah, for sure.

LEE: I would like Sarah Gailey to write some epic fantasy please. Full-on sword and sorcery, dragons.

THOMAS: Because, you know, all of these authors would just not do it like anyone else is doing it. They would just take it in their own direction. That’s what we want to see.

SEAN: Yeah, I find the authors who have the most distinctive style in a specific genre should jump from as many genres as they possibly can, because they can offer a distinctive style to just about any genre.

NATALIE: Okay, there was another comment in the chat, and it says:

[Pop-up from zelizardqueen: not forward-looking but topical… any favourites who didn’t get award love this year who you want to call out/recommend?]

THOMAS: Well, perhaps not specifically, but just addressing a trend, but I notice that more and more every year, the short fiction categories, of novelette and short story, tend now to be dominated almost entirely by the online magazines, every once in a while there’s an exception, but – I think what’s happening is, well, clearly it’s a result of the fact that it’s just super easy to open a browser and go on a website and read something for free. As opposed to subscribing to a print magazine. And it’s a shame because there is still quite a lot of really, really good work happening in the three major print magazines – Fantasy & Science Fiction, Analog, and Asimov's. Of the three of those I tend to focus on Asimov's and F&SF mostly. They’re still putting out really lovely stories that I think deserve attention, but now they’re just getting overlooked, because they don’t have that same online presence that Uncanny and Clarkesworld and BCS and all the rest of them have. So I’d just like to encourage people, you know, don’t forget – because every year I look at the ballots and I’m like, well these are all good stories, but what about this one and this one and this one that I read several months back in the magazine. It’s just a pity that some stuff now just isn’t getting the exposure, so I’d like people to be a bit more open-minded in that regard.

RACHEL: I would throw in anthologies on top of that. I feel like in the past a lot of short fiction nominated for things like the Hugos came from anthologies, back of course before the short fiction market fractured into so many places and stuff. But there are so many fantastic anthologies, and things that have been kickstarted by Twelfth Planet Press and such, and I would love to see more of those stories getting recognition as well. I say this being horribly under-read on anthologies from the last year, but. Feeding off of you there. For the Hugos, two of the books that I really wanted to see on the shortlist for Best Novel for the Hugos this year, they were longlisted but they didn’t make the shortlist. One was Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear, I’ve honestly been surprised it hasn’t been getting more love, it does some really really cool things in that book. And then Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky, which I thought was incredible.

NATALIE: Any other ones, or?

THOMAS: I was going to say that I agree with Adrienne in the comments, yes, FIYAH needs more readers and more love. Excuse me, Fee-yah. Everybody should be reading FIYAH.

SEAN: I agree, I think FIYAH consistently has the best short fiction out there. Like, Strange Horizons is also great, Lightspeed, Clarkesworld, they’re all good, but I think FIYAH always has – I don’t know, there’s something about their stories that other short fiction magazines, and I don’t read the print magazines so I’m probably part of the problem here – but at least as far as the free online magazines, there’s something that FIYAH has that the other magazines just don’t have.

NATALIE: Okay, there’s another question I was curious about and it says, do you think that authors who don’t write their works in English and need to wait for translations of their works are put at a disadvantage?

THOMAS: Well, I mean…

RACHEL: Yes [laughter]

LEE: Yes! [laughter]

THOMAS: [Crosstalk] On the publishing deals, and which western publishers, or English-language publishers choose to bring in a translated work, and – at that point popularity has to play a role, right. The most popular translated writer right now is undeniably Andrzej Sapkowski, who has a new fantasy novel coming out in a couple of months, because of The Witcher. And I think The Dyachenkos from Russia have had a couple of very well-received novels recently from Harper Voyager. So, there at least is an effort now to bring in more non-English language science fiction to the west, and Asian SF and F sort of things. So, yeah there’s a disadvantage, but at least the stuff is starting to trickle over here now, which it largely really never used to do at all. So I’m happy to see it.

[Pop up from Hans: Do you all think that authors who don’t write their works in English and need to wait for translations of their works are put at a disadvantage?]

SEAN: Yeah, I also think there’s a disadvantage by not having it out right away, because marketing pushes are everything, and a global marketing push is probably more powerful than a localised marketing push. I do think that we’re going in the right direction, I give kudos to the World Fantasy Award for nominating the Memory Police, I just started reading it and I think it’s so deserving. So I think awards are starting to recognise it more, and I think the general public are starting to recognise it more, but there’s still a ways to go.

THOMAS: Thanks for that correction, Ray. [Ringing noise} Sorry!

: Any last minute questions for our guests, I know we are getting towards the end of the panel, if anyone has any last questions that you want to ask, please feel free to type them in.

THOMAS: [Ringing noise] Sorry, guys.

LEE: If there aren’t any extra questions, can we just start throwing out recs?


NATALIE: Oh please do, go for it!

THOMAS: I want to hear from all of you, guys!

LEE: Because I have a list, I’ve been waiting. Upcoming in start of September, Killing Frost, the next October Daye book by Seanan McGuire. I’m hyper-excited for this because the Toby Daye series is amazing, and it’s book fourteen, something like that? And it just gets better and better as it goes. Aliette de Bodard has Seven of Infinities coming out in October, which is coming from Subterranean Press, and it’s a tower and a spaceship working together, so. If that doesn’t float your boat I don’t know what will! Adri has a question.

[Pop-up from Adrienne Joy: what books do you have next to you right now]

SEAN: What books do I have next to me right now? I actually have Mexican Gothic as an ebook right next to me because I have to get my review in in the next eleven hours. So, yeah, that’s what I am focusing on.

RACHEL: [Holds up copy of The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal]

THOMAS: I have a stack of novellas, just because it’s convenient to put them there. [Laughs] [Crosstalk] Upcoming – I can throw out a few.

LEE: [Holds up: Finna by Nino Cipri, Phoenix Extravagant by Yoon Ha Lee, Seven Devils by Elizabeth May and Laura Lam]

RACHEL: Phoenix Extravagant! Have we mentioned Phoenix Extravagant yet?

LEE: Nobody has mentioned Phoenix Extravagant yet!

THOMAS: Okay, looking forward to Phoenix Extravagant as well as Piranesi, the new book by Susanna Clarke, and Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse. Those are the two coming up that I’m very excited about.

RACHEL: One that I just came across yesterday is, I think it’s a novella from called An Unnatural Life, by Erin K. Wagner. It is about a cybernetic person who is on trial for murder, and I think their lawyer is human. I don’t think I discovered it in the sentient ships panel at Worldcon but right afterwards, and I was like, oh this is exactly what everybody was talking in there about – Spock and Data and the trials that they went through, and the humanity question and everything. So yeah, An Unnatural Life by Erin K. Wagner. Also Return of the Thief by Megan Whalen Turner is finally coming out in October I think, the long-awaited last novel in the Queen’s Thief series, so.

NATALIE: There was a question, what are three books that you would absolutely recommend that someone pick up, does anyone want to chime in on that?

[Pop-up from WordsinInk: 3 books you would absolutely recommend pickup up?]

LEE: I mean, I started a bookshop so I wouldn’t have to narrow it down to three!

THOMAS: Questions like that are always the hardest, you think it’s, oh well – no, there’s so many, because it comes to, what do you like, what are you looking for, after this kind of story, here’s one, after this kind of story, here’s one.

SEAN: I recommend a little-known short story collection by an author named Robert Shearman, called Remember Why You Fear Me, which will knock your socks off. Ring Shout I already talked about, it’s not out, but I recommend getting it when it comes out in October, and third book would probably be We Are The Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson. Which is what got me back into reading, so yeah. It’s a young adult novel, it’s good stuff.

LEE: Four Profound Weaves by R.B. Lemberg is coming out soon, a novella, it’s in their Birdverse series, and their writing style is just incredible, it is lush and gorgeous and precise and weird and a delight, and I highly, highly recommend. Let me think of two more that I can narrow it down to.

RACHEL: My brain immediately freezes when somebody asks a question like that, like overload! [Laughs]

LEE: All of them, get all of them!

THOMAS: [Crosstalk] Recent stuff, if you have the stomach for it I would say The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones, is a very powerful novel, but yeah you have to have the stomach for it, so.

SEAN: I just finished Mongrels, so I’m getting ready for that, I already purchased that book, so yeah. When I finish Mexican Gothic I will get to it.

THOMAS: Yeah, get ready.

SEAN: Yeah, my body is ready.

RACHEL: I feel like I should recommend some collections, some short fiction, like Ambiguity Machines by Vandana Singh, it’s her latest collection, I think it came out two years ago? Stunning, it’s just one solid story after another.

NATALIE: Lee, I see that someone has a question about your bookstore, wants to know where it is and whether they can order stuff online? So if you want to –

LEE: Plug! It’s in York in the UK, and I’m online, it’s or @portalbookshop on Twitter. Come hound me, it’s fine, I love giving recs and things!

NATALIE: Does anyone else have anything else that they maybe need to plug, or?

SEAN: Not for me, I think I’m good.

THOMAS: Yeah, yeah.

NATALIE: Okay, do we go to exactly one o’clock, are there any other questions?

LEE: I can shout some more book titles if we want! I’m professionally enthusiastic, this is what I do.

NATALIE: Oh I see a question, where can we find the rest of you online? Does anyone have a website, or?

SEAN: Yeah you can find me on Twitter @DowieSean, also I write reviews as a contributor for Nerds of a Feather and that’s, and I also write reviews for FIYAH Literary Magazine, and that’s

THOMAS: As I said my channel is SFF180, my Twitter handle is @SFF180, my website is, you begin to see a pattern emerging. So I’m not hard to find. All I can say is this panel, which has been a delight to be on, has now gotten me kind of revved up because I’m in the mindset for new books, and I have a new mailbag to record immediately after this, so tomorrow I’ll have probably something like a dozen new and upcoming books to show everyone.

RACHEL: I’m looking forward to it!

NATALIE: What about you Rachel?

RACHEL: I’m Kalanadi everywhere, if you search for Kalanadi you will either find me or a river or a language in India, and that is not me.

NATALIE: Great, so thank you very much to our panellists, I hope everyone got plenty of recommendations.

THOMAS: What about you Natalie? Where can we find you?

NATALIE: I can be found on So thank you very much to each one of our panelists, thank you very much everyone for all of your great questions.

SEAN: Thank you everybody!

RACHEL: Thank you everyone!

THOMAS: Thanks everyone!

LEE: Thank you!

NATALIE: I hope everyone has a beautiful, wonderful day, a nice end to the con!

Special thanks to Charlotte Geater for drafting this transcript and to C for proofreading! Responsibility for final text lies with Adri Joy - for any corrections or comments, please get in touch via Twitter.